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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: chumley on March 17, 2011, 08:44:39 PM

Title: Caveman Brewing
Post by: chumley on March 17, 2011, 08:44:39 PM
No, I'm not going to brew in a fire pit or chew and spit grain....

But the broken hydrometer thread got me thinking....I have been brewing so long, that I think that I will try brewing a batch of beer without measuring anything.  No scales, thermometers, graduated cylinders, hydrometers, clocks.....nothing.

I will eyeball the amount of mash water.  Eyeball the amount of grain.  Heat the water until it gets that gassy look that means its at strike temperature.  Mash in and not look and my watch.  Mash out.  Boil.  Eyeball my hop additions.  Chill till the wort feels cool.  Add some yeast slurry and ferment.

Just to say that I can do.  I bet I can brew some pretty tasty beer, brewing like a caveman.

What do you think?
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: timberati on March 17, 2011, 08:48:31 PM
I predict in the end you'll get beer.
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: maxieboy on March 17, 2011, 08:56:17 PM
The only real hitch I see is strike water temp(therefore mash temp). Other than that, do it!
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: tumarkin on March 17, 2011, 10:21:29 PM
I vaguely remember reading something about 'rule of thumb' originating with brewers as a means of quesstimating temperature before thermometers. A quick google finds references to this but no real explanation of technique. Too tire to look further at the moment.
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: dmtaylor on March 17, 2011, 10:31:16 PM
This sounds like a great idea -- I might just try it sometime myself.  I know a guy who doesn't have much respect for recipes and hardly ever measures gravity, and his beers are all pretty darn good, even placing in competitions.

Mashing without a thermometer would REALLY be interesting.  If memory serves, you heat your strike water until it starts steaming like mad, then allow to cool slowly.  When the steam dies down just enough so that you can easily see your reflection in the water, then you add your crushed grain to the water at that point for your mash.  Should get you into the 150-ish ballpark for a normal single infusion mash.
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: timberati on March 17, 2011, 11:21:58 PM
I vaguely remember reading something about 'rule of thumb' originating with brewers as a means of quesstimating temperature before thermometers.

On the Brew Masters show, Sam Calagione says "Rule of Thumb" came from the brewers using their thumbs to test temperatures. I don't quite buy it, but it's okay as an explanation.
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: realbeerguy on March 18, 2011, 01:00:23 AM
I vaguely remember reading something about 'rule of thumb' originating with brewers as a means of quesstimating temperature before thermometers.

On the Brew Masters show, Sam Calagione says "Rule of Thumb" came from the brewers using their thumbs to test temperatures. I don't quite buy it, but it's okay as an explanation.

True or not, makes sense to me
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: rabid_dingo on March 18, 2011, 01:47:09 AM
I like the idea and may try it myself.

Big butt, "Rule of Thumb", makes me wonder. Body temp is 98-99* how good a mash can
you get mashing at that temp only. Plus surface temp of the human body is lower than 98*
The only time I use the rule of thumb is in cooling my wort. No thermometer. I just chill untill
the boil kettle is just slightly cooler than my hand. Then I know it is well below 98*...

I wonder what the/my tolerance of heat is. If I can take 150* by the thumb maybe that is how
it came about. If it is too hot for the thumb it's too hot.
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: bluesman on March 18, 2011, 01:51:13 AM
I think you should go for it. It will be the "mystery beer".

Maybe keep some notes in cas it turns out to be the best beer you ever brewed.  ;)
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: tubercle on March 18, 2011, 03:00:27 AM
I know a guy who doesn't have much respect for recipes and hardly ever measures gravity, and his beers are all pretty darn good....

I know a feller like that also ::)

If memory serves, you heat your strike water until it starts steaming like mad, then allow to cool slowly.  When the steam dies down just enough so that you can easily see your reflection in the water, then you add your crushed grain to the water at that point for your mash. 

 I have read some very old recipes that describes this method. I think one of them was G. Washington's....
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: tschmidlin on March 18, 2011, 05:01:43 AM
Do a test batch with a thermometer and watch the water.  It becomes very glassy at a point, and that is a good time to add your malt.  I've noticed it in my mash tun when heating the water, but might not recognize it if I were just watching for it.  Give it a try and see what you think.
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: denny on March 18, 2011, 05:16:19 AM
Maybe 8-10 years ago, a guy in our club organized a caveman brewing session....even wrote it up for Zymurgy.  There were 2-3 brewers IIRC.  Did it pretty much like chumley describes...no scales or other measuring equipment.  I went by to laugh at them.  Bottom line...the beers sucked.  Maybe someone else could do it better.
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: euge on March 18, 2011, 05:33:24 AM
Don't you think with the boil one can guesstimate easily at least 45 minutes for a bittering charge and then throw some hops in before and after flameout?

I weighed out 6 scoops of 2-row with both hands together and it came to a pound.

Denny may be right but in the worst of circumstances I could brew some beer if all there was was the pot and some yeast. Hopefully it'd be SS so I could just let it cool and ferment in it.
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: jaybeerman on March 18, 2011, 05:51:01 AM
Do a test batch with a thermometer and watch the water.  It becomes very glassy at a point, and that is a good time to add your malt.  I've noticed it in my mash tun when heating the water, but might not recognize it if I were just watching for it.  Give it a try and see what you think.

Interesting, I never thought to look at the water.  I always listen to it.  At our elevation (4800ft), there's an audible change at about 162f (which is nice for making tea and could be useful for a caveman strike temp).  I guess the temp of the audible change might be different at your elevation, but I would think it would be within 10 degrees +/- which would still be a pretty good strike temp.  Just a thought
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: weazletoe on March 18, 2011, 06:06:20 AM
Awesome idea! Sounds like a lot of fun. Really gonna suck, cause if it turns out awesome, you'll never be able to make it again.
 
 On a related note, I've heard that about the rule of thumg also. I also heard it came from the law prohibiting men from beating their wives with a stick any thicker than their thumb.
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: euge on March 18, 2011, 06:12:18 AM
Do a test batch with a thermometer and watch the water.  It becomes very glassy at a point, and that is a good time to add your malt.  I've noticed it in my mash tun when heating the water, but might not recognize it if I were just watching for it.  Give it a try and see what you think.

Interesting, I never thought to look at the water.  I always listen to it.  At our elevation (4800ft), there's an audible change at about 162f (which is nice for making tea and could be useful for a caveman strike temp).  I guess the temp of the audible change might be different at your elevation, but I would think it would be within 10 degrees +/- which would still be a pretty good strike temp.  Just a thought

Mine makes low sighing sound but it gets louder and some times makes a few weird knocking sounds when it gets in the 180's.
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: punatic on March 18, 2011, 08:59:23 AM
If it's a style you've brewed a lot already I'm betting you can get pretty close on all marks from the memory of past brewing sessions. 

I think this will help you to see the effects of your brewing techniques as compared to depending on measurement crutches.  Use your senses to find your marks. (Zen brewing  ;) )  "Be the beer Grasshopper!"
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: uisgue on March 18, 2011, 01:44:15 PM
Two parts boiling water plus one part 60 degree water should put you at about 160 degrees. If your ground water is colder than that, you could adjust the proportions.
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: tygo on March 18, 2011, 02:17:08 PM
Two parts boiling water plus one part 60 degree water should put you at about 160 degrees. If your ground water is colder than that, you could adjust the proportions.

But then you'd have to use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the ground water.  Cavemen didn't have thermometers. 
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: punatic on March 18, 2011, 03:17:42 PM
Two parts boiling water plus one part 60 degree water should put you at about 160 degrees. If your ground water is colder than that, you could adjust the proportions.

But then you'd have to use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the ground water.  Cavemen didn't have thermometers. 

Maybe they did.  They had automobile insurance...
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: hamiltont on March 18, 2011, 03:24:41 PM
So... Taking it to the next step.  How would a caveman store & serve his beer?  Cheers!!!
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: punatic on March 18, 2011, 03:31:42 PM
So... Taking it to the next step.  How would a caveman store & serve his beer?  Cheers!!!

In steins.
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: chumley on March 18, 2011, 03:40:46 PM
If it's a style you've brewed a lot already I'm betting you can get pretty close on all marks from the memory of past brewing sessions. 

I think this will help you to see the effects of your brewing techniques as compared to depending on measurement crutches.  Use your senses to find your marks. (Zen brewing  ;) )  "Be the beer Grasshopper!"

That is why I think I can do this....I have brewed so many 1.050 beers with 10 lbs. of malt, be it pilsners, APAs, best bitter, weizens, etc., that I think I can do this in my sleep.

The sound of the water heating up, and the look of it (gassy, from the flame hitting the bottom of the kettle) has me guessing the strike temperature about +/- 5° when I subsequently meaure it. It has emboldened me to do this.

Think I will do an APA...seems like I could just add handfuls of C-hops near the end of the boil, and it will turn out okay.
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: jaybeerman on March 18, 2011, 06:16:47 PM
But then you'd have to use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the ground water.  Cavemen didn't have thermometers. 

Why would you need a thermometer?  Og the Caveman make batch, analyze the final product, adjust accordingly (hmm, this beer not so good, next time Og use 2.5to1 ratio rather than 2to1).

So... Taking it to the next step.  How would a caveman store & serve his beer?  Cheers!!!
.

In the cave, I would assume.  Caves tend to be dark and cool, usually around 50 degrees year round.  Of course the beer would be served straight from the fermenter, maybe slightly effervescent from fermentation.

Chumley, this is a great thread/idea.  cheers, j
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: tschmidlin on March 18, 2011, 06:44:55 PM
So... Taking it to the next step.  How would a caveman store & serve his beer?  Cheers!!!
Based on historical brews, a caveman probably drank the beer after 2-3 days with grains still in it. ;)
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: euge on March 18, 2011, 06:47:36 PM
So... Taking it to the next step.  How would a caveman store & serve his beer?  Cheers!!!
Based on historical brews, a caveman probably drank the beer after 2-3 days with grains still in it. ;)

Caveman probably drank mead.
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: tschmidlin on March 18, 2011, 06:50:46 PM
So... Taking it to the next step.  How would a caveman store & serve his beer?  Cheers!!!
Based on historical brews, a caveman probably drank the beer after 2-3 days with grains still in it. ;)

Caveman probably drank mead.
"caveman no malt"
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: hamiltont on March 18, 2011, 06:57:10 PM
"Caveman no malt"? "Caveman no Braggot!"  :'(
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: bluesman on March 18, 2011, 06:58:36 PM
"Caveman no malt"? "Caveman no Braggot!"  :'(

"Caveman thirsty"  :P
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: beersk on March 18, 2011, 07:46:27 PM
Right guys...cavemen probably drank water or nothing at all.  You REALLY think they made beer?  ha!  A more realistic name for this type of brewing would be more like Medieval brewing.
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: hamiltont on March 18, 2011, 07:54:30 PM
Right guys...cavemen probably drank water or nothing at all.  You REALLY think they made beer?  ha!  A more realistic name for this type of brewing would be more like Medieval brewing.
Party Pooper....  :P   ;)
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: maxieboy on March 18, 2011, 08:28:45 PM
"Caveman no like industrial lager"...
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: punatic on March 18, 2011, 08:54:05 PM
"Caveman no malt"? "Caveman no Braggot!"  :'(

Caveman make good mead - caveman braggot a lot!
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: oscarvan on March 21, 2011, 01:20:51 PM
If this becomes a BJCP style I might participate. I've been cooking "free form" for years.
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: akr71 on March 22, 2011, 07:24:12 PM
On a related note, I've heard that about the rule of thumg also. I also heard it came from the law prohibiting men from beating their wives with a stick any thicker than their thumb.

This is what I hear rule of thumb was too.
Title: Re: Caveman Brewing
Post by: oscarvan on March 23, 2011, 12:03:54 AM
Was Thumg a caveman?

Sorry.....I'll go to my room now.